The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge. Neither love without knowledge, nor knowledge without love can produce a good life.— Bertrand Russell
While the world needs me not, it places its hope in each one of us. Though the universe may be unknown its components, its future is surely determined by the actions of each constituents. Privileges have been bestowed upon me in hopes that I can do something greater.
This live was given to me and this life I shall give. I will not forsake my duty to give life to that which has given me life.— Aaron Sun
While I'm sharing a bit about my own life in the following pages, I think may of my experiences are not unique. Instead they are both caused and shared by many in our generation because of the social, cultural, political, and technological forces which have changed the world in the past decades. My personal journey shared the same discoveries and frustrations about the world that many of us have experienced and which have shaped who I am.
Instead of the standard chronological order story, I'll divulge in a manner I think is most salient. I'm a child of the computer generation and the internet generation. My parents had moved to the United States from Canada as I was entering first grade and they were trying to figure out where they would fit in the economy. In the mid-nineties, there was already a lot of buzz about working with computers and my parents had toyed around with the idea of getting my mother into that field while my father kept the family solvent. Luckily, my uncle had a college friend who lived not far away and worked as a developer, and he was happy to help get us up and running. So there it was; when I was in third grade we got our first computer a Gateway 2000 packaged in that black and white cow spotted box, perfect since we were living in the Midwest, and our family friend helped get us set up with some programming software. As many good plans go, my mother didn't really take to the computer nor programming, however I saw this brand new shiny toy which needed to be properly played with.
From that point onward, I was hooked. Eventually we got a 56k modem and subscription after much begging. I continued to code and learn and tinker. The internet opened up a new world. I found programming forums and game development forums, of which GameDev.net is still around. And I found gaming. The combination of the two things captivated me. I'd spend hours playing Age of Empires and Starcraft. In a world that was chaotic, I loved how predictable the computer was and I loved how immersive and expansive games could be.
These two things changed the way I thought and would continue to influence who I would become for years to come. At the time, both of these has not yet reached the near ubiquity that it has today.
The other half of the story revolves around religion.
It’s interesting that the concept of self didn’t always exist. In past times, we saw ourselves as a lot more connected with our surroundings. When we talk about someone, especially someone notable in the past, we usually aren’t talking about the flesh and bones of that person. Instead we are talking about the set of ideas and beliefs that emanated through what that person said and did.
This is the necessary thing to do. I will chase it even if the economic system has yet to catch up. If you support this vision and want to help to see it to reality, please support these projects. Thanks.
This is the things that need to be done.
Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.— Aristotle
The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.— Robert Swan
It always seems impossible until it's done.— Nelson Mandela
One doesn't discover new lands without consenting to lose sight, for a very long time, of the shore.— André Gide, French author and Nobel Prize winner
If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.— Issac Newton
This dissertation documents my own journey through space and time. I have seen it as a special privilege to have been given the opportunity to live the equivalent of millions of lives and thousands of years through the works of other people. Over the past few hundred years, with the division of knowledge, we have gained a phenomenal amount of understanding in many different fields. It is important to realize that while we may be exposed to these fields are dichotomies, it is in fact a false dichotomy as they are all just different facets of the same reality. They have all stemmed from people just like you and me looking out in the world and looking for the reason and meanings behind what we observe. From those initial questions, we created systems so that we can collectively better understand the things that we see. We created abstract systems like mathematics, physics, and language not because we want to torture our children in school, but as tools to convey and understand the complexity, beauty, and majesty of the universe we exist in. There is the flip side as well. We look around and see suffering and injustice everywhere. Here too, we want to understand what the causes are behind the sufferings that we experience, that our friends and family experience, and that our society experiences, in order to try to alleviate that.
For me, both curiosity and a need to alleviate suffering have continuously existed in tension. Having been raised Christian, I was taught about the love of God and how there was meaning and purpose to our individual lives. Early on in my life, I felt this dearly, as I was well loved by my parents and given an incredibly nurturing environment. As I aged, I started to see cracks in this ideal picture. We were first generation immigrants and my parents struggled as they worked tirelessly to both take care of the family as well as integrate into a society that was foreign to them. Though they did their best to shield me from this, I was always observant and could see and sense the tension.
Through my adolescence, I started to have a hard time.
In a sense computers were my saving grace. Unlike the world they acted rationally and consistently when life did not.
My exposure to game design lead me to look for reasons why the universe functioned the way they did. As game designers, we are able to create part of the reality that other people exist in. And though the players may not understand it, there were underlying rules to the madness.
Without further ado, let me tell you the most fascinating story in the world. A story that arches over all the other stories – the story of earth and life itself.
The challenges around neural networks is that they grow exponentially in complexity with the size of the network. An easy way to think about this is with t
Remember that a human brain only weight approximately 5kg and runs on the equivalent of 30 watts. Individually we are basically monkeys, however a number of minute advancements that have allowed humanity to prosper to its current state. Vocal advancements allow us to transmit a higher bandwidth of information (think a modern quad-core computer with a 14.4k modem). Advancements in dexterity allow us to interact with our environments better and create more intricate tools. The totality of a number of advancements enabled the largest advancement of all. Our ability to collaborate and the growth of society, the collective unconscious, hive mind, or any number of other terms that stem from the same root idea. So humans are not that smart, but humanity is pretty smart.
Money is a proxy for humanity and humans are a proxy for more fundamental traits (think of the laws that define organic chemistry and metabolic cycles).
What keeps me up at night these days (literally) is that after a global artificial intelligence system is created and surpasses the operational ability of current enterprises and governments, what kind of a society we will create then. Historically technology shocks can go in two directions. If managed well, it promotes a redistribution of wealth and better living standards and faster progression of development. However, if executed poorly, it can lead to higher inequality, social instability, and cultural backlashes and regressions in technological and social progress. Smaller contemporary examples include the protests around rising inequality and gentrification in San Francisco. Extreme examples include how western governments failed to create better conditions using “modern” western concepts in the middle east leading to a social cultural backlash and the rise of the Islamic State, the resulting genocides, physical and sexual violence, as well as its rippling effects including the refugee crisis and terrorism. On the flip side, there is incredible potential for better social conditions and work conditions. These global systems could potentially provide a much better understanding of the benefits and consequences of actions and could better align enterprises and sovereignties to work together towards communal goals while taking their individual interests in mind. We would be able to put numbers on social benefits and the long term benefits of social programs including education, economic transfers, healthcare and other welfare programs. There would be valuation for all work, not just that which is easily accounted for including care work and parenting at home that is crucial to the continuance of humanity. Communications technologies would enable work could be more flexible as well and These hopes and concerns are better enumerated and explained in the recently published 2015 Human Development Report. Following the directions of companies in many different sectors including technology, we see a trend towards this convergence, but not a comprehensive vision. This is probably due to the large cross domain knowledge required as well as the fact that there are higher immediate value goals which are also prerequisites to such a system being constructed.